Indian Sports – A battle against overwhelming odds

New Delhi: Despite its immense potential, Indian sports has had a chequered run at the international level due to abjectly poor administration, total government apathy and lack of knowledge about the latest training methods.

However, some sports have managed to overcome the formidable odds to achieve extraordinary success at the international level thanks to the dedication, hard work and never-say-die attitude of Indian athletes.

Let us have a look at some of these sports.


Hockey is the most successful discipline for India at the Olympics. In 1928, the team won its first Olympic gold medal and until 1960, the Indian men’s team remained unbeaten in the Olympics, winning six gold medals in a row. The team had a 30–0 winning streak during this time, from their first game in 1928 until the 1960 gold medal final which they lost.

India also won the World Cup in 1975. India’s hockey team is the most successful team ever in the Olympics, having won a total of eight gold medals – in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1980. India also has the best overall performance in Olympic history with 83 victories out of the 134 matches played. They have also scored more goals in the Olympics than any other team. They are also the only team ever to win the Olympics without conceding a single goal, having done so in 1928 and 1956.

The men in blues are also one of the most successful teams in Asia. They have won the Asian Games three times – in 1966, 1998 and 2014.

India came out on top in the Asia Cup in 2003, 2007 and in 2017. India has won 43 out of 56 matches in the Asia Cup and holds the records for most wins and best winning percentage in the competition. They are also the most successful team in the Asian Champions Trophy, winning the competition three times – in 2011, 2016 and in 2018. In total, India has won 27 official international titles.

India is known to have an intense rivalry with Pakistan, with whom they have played in the finals of major tournaments like Olympics, World Cup, Asian Games and Asia Cup. India also have a unique record of beating Pakistan in the finals of all these tournaments.


An ancient sport with a history dating back thousands of years, werstling has been popular in India since before the time of the Mahabharat.

It is one of the most succesful sports for India at all big international events, niot just the CWG.

Sushil Kumar (Gold, 2010)
September 12, 2010, will forever remain etched in the history of Indian wrestling. On that day, Sushil Kumar became the first Indian to win gold in the World Championships. In the semifinals, he won by a whisker against Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov as the score read 4-3.

That helped him set up a summit clash against local favourite Alan Gogaev of Russia. Kumar earned two quick points and won the first round 2-1, whereas, in the second the Indian grappler defended well enough to secure the title in the 66kg category by a scoreline of 3-1.

Bajrang Punia (1 Silver & 2 Bronze)
The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist is the only Indian to win multiple medals at the wrestling World Championships.

He won his first medal in 2013 when he defeated Enkhsaikhany Nyam-Ochir of Mongolia in the bronze medal playoff match.

In 2018, he reached the finals and went up against Japan’s Takuto Otoguro. He started on the backfoot as his opponent picked up five successive points in no time. He came strongly and at one point the deficit was just one. However, Otoguro continued to attack Punia’s leg and the Indian had no answer to it. He lost the match 16-9.

In 2019, he won his third World Championship medal when he defeated Tulga Tumur Ochir with a narrow 8-7 win.

Bishambar Singh (Silver, 1967)
When Bishambar Singh won silver at the World Championship it was only India’s second medal at the prestigious event after Udey Chand’s bronze in 1961.

He went into the tournament in a rich vein of form, having won gold at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze in the Asian Games in the previous year. He had little trouble in reaching the finals of the World Championship in the 57kg weight category but faced Russian legend Ali Aliev in the gold medal match.

Aliev proved to be too strong for him and he had to settle with a silver.

Amit Kumar Dahiya (SIlver, 2013)
Amit Kumar Dahiya was the favourite to win gold in the 55kg category.

At just 18, he qualified for the London Olympics and he was being termed as the would-be flag-bearer of Indian wrestling post the Sushil Kumar era. In the first round, he breezed past Yasuhiro Inaba of Japan 10-2. In the successive rounds, he continued his dominance and reached the final by defeating Turkey’s Sezar Akgul 8-0 in the semi-finals.

In the final, he went up against Iran’s Rahimi Hassan but lost a closely fought contest by 2-1 points.

Deepak Punia (Silver, 2019)
Deepak Punia started on shaky grounds in the first round against Kazhakstan’s Adilet Davlumbayev.

The Kazakh raced to a 5-0 win, but the Indian showed his composure to come back from behind and win the fight 8-6. He went from strength to strength in the competition and won over Colombia’s Carlos Arturo Mendez and Swiss wrestler Stefan Reichmuth. Although he won the semifinal bout against Reichmuth, it came at a price.

After the match, he was seen limping in his left foot and had a swollen right eye. He could not recover in time for the final and had to withdraw from the gold-medal bout.

Here are all the bronze medal winners from India at the Wrestling World Championship:
2019 Ravi Kumar Dahiya Men’s FS 57 Kg

2019 Rahul Aware Men’s FS 61 Kg

2019 Vinesh Phogat Women’s FS 53 Kg

2015 Narsingh Pancham Yadav Men’s FS 74 Kg

2018 Pooja Dhanda Women’s FS 57 Kg

2013 Sandeep Tulsi Yadav Men’s GR 66 Kg

2013 Bajrang Punia Men’s FS 60 Kg

2012 Geeta Phoga Women’s FS 55 Kg

2012 Babita Kumari Women’s FS 51 Kg

2009 Ramesh Kumar Men’s FS 74 Kg

2006 Alka Tomar Women’s FS 59 Kg

1961 Udey Chand Men’s FS 67 Kg


Indian boxing enjoys a rich legacy at the Women’s World Boxing Championships, courtesy Mary Kom, who has won a record six gold medals in the event.

Mary Kom – the most successful boxer at the Women’s World Boxing Championships – was also the first Indian boxer to win a medal at the global event with a silver in the light flyweight (48kg) category at the inaugural edition.

Besides Mary Kom, India’s Lekha KC, Jenny RL, Laishram Sarita Devi and Nikhat Zareen have also been women’s world champions in their respective categories.

With 10 gold, eight silver and 21 bronze medals, India is the fourth-most successful nation at the women’s boxing championships after Russia, China and Turkey.

The first male Indian boxer to win a World Championships medal was Vijender Singh, who won bronze in the middleweight division at the 2009 World Championships.

No male Indian boxer has won gold as yet at the World Championships, with the best performance being Amit Panghal’s flyweight (52kg) silver in the 2019 edition.


Shooting is an important Olympic sport in India. Of India’s 35 Olympic medals, four have come from shooting, including a gold by Abhinav Bindra in the 2008 Olympics.

Medal winners at Olympics: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Vijay Kumar


Neeraj Chopra: The Indian Army subedar created history when he became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in athletics, that too a gold.

The 24-year-old added another feather to his cap when he won the silver medal at the World Athletics Championships 2022 and created history for India by becoming only the second Indian to win a medal in the prestigious event.

Anju Bobby George: The first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships was Anju Bobby George. At the 2003 Paris World Championships, the ace long-jumper leapt to a distance of 6.70m to secure the bronze medal for India.


Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney, which made her the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal.[1] In 1992, she participated in the Asian championship which took place in Thailand and stood second and won three silver medals. She also won three Bronze medals in the world championship.

In the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu won the gold medal in the women’s 48 kg category, while Mirabai Chanu took the silver in the same event. In the men’s 56 kg category, Sukhen Dey won gold and Ganesh Mali won bronze and Sathish Sivalingam won the gold medal in the 77 kg category, with 149 kg snatch, and 179 kg clean and jerk lifts, totalling 328 kg. His lift of 149 kg in the snatch, set a new games record. Affin Varghese won the gold medal in the 57 kg category, with 114 kg snatch, and 130 kg clean and jerk lifts, totalling 298 kg. His lift of 139 kg in the snatch, set a new state record in the junior category.

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